Got Safety? Part One - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Got Safety? Part One

Managing a safe wash is important to you, your employees and your customers.


Managing a safe wash is important to you, your employees and your customers. Here are a few tips to help you comply with regulatory requirements and handle car wash solutions in a safe and efficient manner.

Regulatory Requirements

OSHA requires all businesses to have a written “Hazard Communication Program” which can serve as the basic framework for safe chemical handling and training on chemical hazards. These programs must consist of three very important parts.

  1. Labeling: This includes labels on products as you receive them but also labels on any “secondary containers” that you may transfer products to either as is or diluted.
  2. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): Maintain a list of all hazardous materials in-house, and have MSDS for each located in a place convenient for employee access. These sheets are provided by your solutions supplier. It is important to keep copies of the list and all MSDS in a separate, safe location.
  3. Employee Training: Develop a training program to inform employees of the materials that they may come in contact with and what, if any, hazards there are, and how to handle the chemicals properly. They also need to know that the MSDS are available for them and how to read them.

It is important to train your employees on safe handling of products. They should know what the products are and what hazards they may present. In full-serve washes, it is common for many employees to handle a variety of hand-applied products. Be sure the employees are aware of the proper labeling and handling of these materials.

Products that are regularly being transferred to smaller containers for use should only be put into containers that are labeled with accurate information. These labels should identify the solution and convey the basic hazards, if any, of the material at the concentration being used. Your solutions distributor can help with obtaining the proper labels.

Chemical Storage and Handling

Most car washes are tight for room and storing extra drums of product can be a challenge. Moving these large containers present considerable physical hazards such as finger pinching and back and muscle injuries. Equipment such as drum dollies or other gear to help your employees move and place heavy drums of chemicals is important to employee safety.

The move toward ultra concentrates has helped reduce these types of physical injuries, but all products should still be handled using good physical techniques.

Develop a safe system for capturing the last remaining product from its container. Pouring from a drum into a bucket can be clumsy and lead to spills or human exposure. To avoid contamination it is not a good idea to pour remaining solutions into a new fresh drum of product. It is best if these could be used up separately.

Be Prepared
It’s very important for employees to have access to proper personal protection equipment such as goggles and gloves and their use should be mandatory. Employees should always wash their hands prior to lunch/breaks and before leaving work to remove any solutions that they may have on their hands.

It is a very good idea to have a sink in your equipment room with hard water plumbed to the cold water side. Hard water is much more effective than soft water at rinsing these solutions from your skin. Clean towels or a well-stocked paper towel dispenser is also a must.

Next Month Part Two: Proper use of products, maintenance and good management.

By: Rick Martens, Senior Chemist at Lustra™ Car Care Products

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